Award Winners

2019

Large Newspaper

Silver

“La science au chevet de Notre-Dame” July 10, 2019

(“At the bedside of Notre Dame”)

Le Monde

Nathaniel Herzberg described the work of scientists trying to understand the past and potential future of Notre Dame cathedral in the wake of the devastating fire that nearly destroyed the historic structure in April 2019. The cathedral debris offers a wealth of insight into more than eight centuries of the structure’s architectural history. From the first night, art historians, archaeologists and curators helped firefighters save as much of the cathedral as possible. Once the real extent of the damage was known, teams of scientists were organized to explore the cathedral’s structure and...Read more

Video: In-Depth Reporting

Silver

“How to See a Black Hole: The Universe’s Greatest Mystery” April 10, 2019

Windfall Films for Smithsonian Networks and the BBC, in association with NHK, Canal+ and Welt24

"Black Hole Hunters" April 12, 2019

The Windfall Films documentary followed the Event Horizon Telescope team as they captured the first-ever image of a black hole. The video spans two years, telling the inside story of the final moments of a decade-long project as it occurred in real time. The project combined eight radio telescopes from around world, including the South Pole, to make a synchronized, planet-wide telescope capable of observing radio emissions associated with black holes. Based on theory and observations, the existence of black holes — from which no light can escape — has long been accepted by scientists...Read more

Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting

Silver

“Greenland – OMG Expedition” Oct. 3, 2018

VICE News Tonight

In a striking VICE News Tonight segment, the VICE team traveled to Knud Rasmussen Glacier in eastern Greenland to investigate the mechanisms behind glacial melt and sea level rise. They met up with NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland expedition — OMG for short — to learn how ocean water has a major impact on Greenland’s disappearing glacial ice. Scientists on the expedition are finding that warming ocean currents, hundreds of meters beneath the ocean surface, are by far “the biggest and most overlooked source of glacial melt.” The segment focused on the scientific process and emphasized the...Read more

Small Newspaper

Silver

“Unlocking Science in Idaho” Nov. 25, 2018

DESERET NEWS

Three pieces by Amy Joi O’Donoghue, published on the same day, provided a comprehensive look at the history, future and current impact on Utah residents of the nearby Idaho National Laboratory. O’Donoghue investigated the lab’s current research, describing important projects and their significance for the local area. In a second piece, she focused on the future of the lab’s partnership with NuScale’s Carbon Free Power Project. The project, which could provide clean nuclear energy to Utah residents by 2026, has stirred up local controversy among legislators and energy companies. The last of...Read more

Magazine

Silver

“Caucher Birkar — from asylum seeker to Fields Medal winner at Cambridge” April 2019

The Times Magazine (London)

Caucher Birkar grew up in a Kurdish peasant family in a war zone in Iran. An older brother started teaching him mathematics beyond what was in his textbooks, and he won acceptance into Tehran University, where his interest in math was further nurtured. But he eventually applied for asylum in Britain and was arbitrarily settled in Nottingham, where he lived with three other asylum seekers, unable to work and paying for food with vouchers. While in a “bureaucratic purgatory,” as Tom Whipple of The Times of London, describes it, Birkar benefited from a happy circumstance. The local...Read more

Audio

Silver

“The Fourth Astronaut” June 10, 2019

“Saving 1968” June 17, 2019

“We’re go for Powered Descent” July 1, 2019

BBC World Service

In three episodes of a 12-part podcast and radio series about the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the BBC team used archival materials and extensive new interviews to explain the technology and engineering advances that made the mission a success. They described in exquisite detail the design and development of the “fourth astronaut,” the 70-pound onboard flight computer that made everything possible and which also presented some daunting last-minute challenges for mission controllers and pilot Neil Armstrong as the Eagle lander rapidly approached the lunar surface. The producers described...Read more

Online

Silver

“The Impossibly Cute Pika’s Survival May Say Something About Our Future” May 9, 2019

InsideClimate News

Nicholas Kusnetz described the painstaking work of biologist Chris Ray who has been tracking the American pika, a fist-sized denizen of the western mountains of the United States, for more than 30 years. It is “one of the longest-running research projects of one of the West’s most adorable creatures,” Kusnetz wrote.  He added, “The rabbit relatives are highly sensitive to temperature changes. They live high in the mountains, where temperatures are warming faster than the global average. And because pikas occupy a habitat that's critical to life across the West—mountain snowmelt is the...Read more

Children's Science News

Silver

“Rare-plant hunters race against time to save at-risk species” February 7, 2019

Science News for Students (online magazine)

In her winning entry, Canadian science writer Sharon Oosthoek followed efforts by scientists trying to save Hawaii’s endangered alula, a plant that once was widely used in decorative leis. She lured her readers into the story from the outset, writing: “Somewhere on a windswept cliff on the edge of the Hawaiian island of Kauai grows a plant that looks like a cabbage on a stick. It’s the last wild plant of its kind, and its exact location is a closely guarded secret.” Oosthoek described efforts by horticulturists to save that last, lonely plant by cultivating offspring in greenhouses and...Read more